Phoenix police attribute 9 murders to suspected serial killer arrested in parents' deaths

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New mug shot of Cleophus Cooksey, 35, charged in multiple murders in the Phoenix area. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) New mug shot of Cleophus Cooksey, 35, charged in multiple murders in the Phoenix area. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Photos of the 9 victims (Source: Phoenix Police Department) Photos of the 9 victims (Source: Phoenix Police Department)
Liliana Vasquez, left, Desaree Coronado, middle, and Griselda Vasquez, right. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Liliana Vasquez, left, Desaree Coronado, middle, and Griselda Vasquez, right. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Phoenix PD created a timeline of victims they say are tied to Cleophus Cooksey (Source: Phoenix Police Department) Phoenix PD created a timeline of victims they say are tied to Cleophus Cooksey (Source: Phoenix Police Department)
Cleophus Cooksey, 35, charged in multiple murders in the Phoenix area. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Cleophus Cooksey, 35, charged in multiple murders in the Phoenix area. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Phoenix man who was arrested in the killing of his parents in December is set to be charged with seven additional murders, Phoenix police said in a news conference Thursday morning. 

[RAW VIDEO: News conference about serial killer investigation]

“We are here to announce the arrest of a man who we believe committed at least 9 homicides in the cities of Phoenix, Avondale and Glendale," said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

[READ MORE: PD: Phoenix man shot, killed parents and then resisted arrest]

Phoenix police say they have linked Cleophus E. Cooksey Jr., 35, to a series of at least nine killings in those three cities.

[CRIME MAP: 9 murders Phoenix police attribute to suspected serial killer Cleo Cooksey]

[TIMELINE: Police piece together crime spree of suspected serial killer]

Police say the killings occurred within a three-week time period at the end of 2017. 

“Nine deaths. Three weeks. Nine people shot in our communities in Avondale, Glendale and Phoenix," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.

[PHOTOS: Victims of suspected serial killer]

Police officials say Cooksey knew some of the victims but investigators are still trying to determine motives for at least some of the killings.

“Criminals are not bound by city limits,” says Chief Williams. “They go wherever they can find the next victim.”

NEW: 3 WOMEN ARRESTED

Three women have also been arrested in this case in connection with the homicide of one of the victims, Jesus Real.

[STORY: 3 women arrested for tampering and hindering the investigation into serial killings]

Cooksey’s girlfriend, Liliana Vasquez, and her sister Griselda Vasquez, as well as Desaree Coronado, the victim's child’s mother, were all arrested and charged for tampering and hindering the homicide investigation in reference the death of Real. 

Police officials say Cooksey knew some of the victims but investigators are still trying to determine motives for at least some of the killings.

TECHNOLOGY HELPED THE INVESTIGATION

Stanton credits new technology available to police for helping solve the crimes within such a short period.

“Law enforcement was able to use this technology to link at least nine homicides around the Valley to a single suspect and put him behind bars,” said Stanton.

“Homicide investigations take a long time. All of the investigators with Phoenix, Avondale and Glendale have been working extremely hard and have pieced together nine in three weeks,” said Howard. “To solve nine homicides in a period of three weeks is outstanding.”

During Thursday's press conference, Chief Williams laid out a timeline of the murders and took a moment to remember the victims.

  • Nov. 27 - Andrew Remillard and Parker Smith were shot to death outside a Speedy Cash on 16th Street and Indian School Road
  • Dec. 2 - Salim Richards was found shot to death near 44th Avenue and Indian School Road
  • Dec. 11 - Jesus Real was found shot to death near 4th Street and Harrison Drive
  • Dec. 13 - LaTorrie Beckford was found shot to death outside a Glendale apartment complex near 55th Avenue and Camelback Road
  • Dec. 15 - Kris Cameron was found shot to death in Glendale near 59th Avenue and Camelback Road
  • Dec. 15 - Maria Griselda Villanueva was found sexually assaulted and shot to death in Phoenix after being reported missing from Glendale
  • Dec. 17 - Rene Cooksey and Edward Nunn, Cooksey's mother and stepfather were shot to death in their home near 12th Street and Highland in Phoenix

THE ARREST

Glendale police talked about Cooksey's arrest.

“At the end of the day, what this came down to was a patrol officer answering a call for service and doing the right things: taking a person into custody, recognizing that there were abnormalities in his behavior; he was trying to conceal what was going on. The officer, very appropriately, took the right action, took the guy into custody and got him off our streets," said Glendale Police Chief Rick St. John.

SUSPECT'S PAST

Department of Corrections records show that Cooksey served time for an armed robbery committed in November 2000 and manslaughter committed in January 2001.

“He had been in prison about 16 years when a man he was working with committed an armed robbery and was killed. So, he spent many years in prison and has been out 18 months, and during that time has been in and out of jail,” said Phoenix police Sgt. Jonathan Howard.

He was released on July 28, 2017.

POLICE SEEK MORE INFORMATION

Sgt. Howard says there may be people out there who have information about these crimes.

“We expect that there are people in our community who have additional information who will be able to help us piece this together,” says Howard.

He urges anyone with information to contact police or Silent Witness.

Police later provided a detailed breakdown of each linked crime:

  • On November 27, at approximately 10:45 p.m., Phoenix police officers responded to a shooting near 1500 East Indian School Road. The suspect had fled the area but officers located two men with gunshot injuries dead inside a car. The victims were identified as Andrew Remillard and Parker Smith.  
  • On December 2, at approximately 7:45 p.m., Phoenix police officers responded to a shooting near 4400 West Indian School Road. The suspect had fled the area but officers located an adult male with gunshot injuries dead near the roadway. The victim was identified as Salim Richards. Detectives discovered that property, including a handgun, had been stolen from the victim. 
  • On December 11, at approximately 3:30 p.m., Avondale police officers responded to a residence near 500 East Harrison Drive. The suspect had fled the area but officers located an adult male with gunshot injuries dead inside the home. The victim was identified as Jesus Real.  
  • On December 13, at approximately 6:55 p.m., Glendale police officers responded to an apartment complex near 5100 North 55th Avenue reference a shooting. The suspect had fled the area but officers located an adult male with gunshot injuries dead in the common area of the complex.  The victim was identified as Latorrie Beckford.  
  • On December 15, at approximately 7:20 p.m., Glendale police officers responded to an apartment complex near 5100 North 58th Avenue reference a shooting. The suspect had fled the area but officers located an adult male with gunshot injuries dead in the common area of the complex.  The victim was identified as Kristopher Cameron.  
  • On December 15, at approximately 8:50 p.m., the victim, Maria Villanueva, was kidnapped from an apartment complex near 5100 North 58th Avenue in Glendale. The following day, Phoenix police officers responded to a check welfare call and located the sexually assaulted body of Maria Villanueva in an alley near 1700 South 3rd Street in Phoenix. She was deceased of apparent gunshot injuries.
  • On December 17,  just before 8:00 p.m., Phoenix police officers responded to an apartment in the area of 1300 E. Highland Avenue in reference a shooting. Witnesses reported hearing shots coming from an apartment nearby. Officers arrived and located the apartment. Inside the apartment, officers observed two victims who had suffered gunshot injuries. Inside the apartment, the officers contacted Cleophus Cooksey, Jr.  Phoenix fire personnel responded and pronounced both victims deceased. Detectives determined that the victims were Cooksey’s mother, Rene Cooksey and her husband, Edward Nunn. Cooksey was arrested for two counts of homicide and booked into jail where he has remained. 

Click HERE to read PDF of the police report.

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